Art Student Timeline

If you know you want to go to art school (or are considering it!), CollegeMapper can help! Here is a timeline of key action items each year to make your application and portfolio stand out.

  • Start highlighting your strengths in your work with the goal of making a stellar portfolio/audition.
  • Locate colleges that you wish to apply to and look at the types of media they specialize in.
  • Contact schools to get portfolio and audition requirements.
  • Join mailing lists.
  • Go to National Portfolio Day to get your feet on the ground.
  • Start making your portfolio. Most schools want 15-20 pieces. Use only your best work and if a school specializes in a certain media, highlight that media in your portfolio.
  • Be sure to review each school’s requirements for the portfolio.
  • Contact schools to get portfolio/audition requirements.
  • Contact schools to schedule auditions/portfolio presentations.
  • Make sure you have enough time to finalize your portfolio before your portfolio day.
  • Choose people who are familiar with your work for letters of recommendations.
  • Visit campuses.
  • Go to National Portfolio Day and ask questions.
  • Apply to the school. Check to make sure you have all the requirements for each school.
  • Interview well. Interviews are usually held between October and January. Be prepared to answer common questions such as why do you want to attend this school and what is a weakness.
  • Think about whether you want a BA, a BMA, or a BFA.
  • Take your portfolio to National Portfolio Day and ask for feedback.


BA (bachelor in art) in Music: an interdisciplinary/liberal arts degree designed for students who want to continue studying music while also studying in other fields to prepare for a career outside of music. This degree provides core music study with intensive studies in other areas.

BM (bachelor of music): a professional degree in music involving intensive music courses and studies in applied music.

BFA (bachelor in fine arts): is the standard undergraduate degree for students seeking a professional education in the visual or performing arts.